Monthly Archives: June 2015

Bittersweet

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I love this picture! It’s Toni, James and I in Scotland. They were my cousins but became my brother and sister. Derrelyn isn’t in the picture but she’s my sister too. That’s sweetness. I have no biological siblings but in the ugliness – I got siblings. Sweetness!

Such bittersweet memories. But that’s how life is, right? Bitter and sweet. Sweet for the love of my family who took me in and loved me when I was in a bad way and too young to care for myself. Fun memories, love, laughs and lots of sweetness. But there was a ton of pain too. Lots of hurt and bitterness. And I ALWAYS worried about my mother.

I was just a little girl…maybe in the fourth grade. Something happened and I unexpectedly traveled many hours across the ocean to live with my aunt (my mother’s sister) and her family in Scotland. My uncle (my aunt’s husband) worked in the oilfield and they had just moved there.

My memory frequently fails me which I have always seen as a blessing instead of a curse. There are some things you just shouldn’t remember. I have never seen much need in digging around in my buried memories. The way I see it, they are buried for a reason. I have enough junk to work through without digging around for more. I don’t so much remember details of events or memories. Instead, I remember feelings I felt when I was with people. Like sweet feelings or scary feelings. With mother, I usually felt scared. And worried. I worried she wouldn’t make good decisions and we would end up in a scary place or situation which was frequently the case.

From what I understand, Mother had progressed from just using pills and alcohol to heavier drugs and using needles. I had missed several days of school and the school couldn’t get in touch with Mother to make sure I was okay. They called my aunt who at that time lived in the same town. She drove out to check on me. She found me doctoring mother’s wounds from injection sites. Mother was married to her third husband at the time and had lived with them for a short time. But I think he must have seen the “crazy” and got out. Who could blame him? Thankfully, I don’t remember much of this. Mother’s position was always that I was stolen from her and that there was always some sort of a cover up from some illegal activity. Either way, I was still just a little girl. This wasn’t normal. When I looked at other girls my age, they didn’t look like they knew of the things I saw or worried about.

I guess Mother probably didn’t see her drug use as being a big problem like others did. But that’s what happens, things get minimized. Just like me – did you notice what I did? I made a profound statement – She found me doctoring mother’s wounds from injection sites. I minimized and skipped over it quickly…like I was rattling off what I had eaten for breakfast. That’s what I’ve always done. But there is a lot of emotion buried in that statement. Bitterness, fear and pain. No sweetness in that statement. I minimized…just like mother. Mother had multiple sores from injecting heroin. I missed school because of my mother’s drug problem. That’s a lot to deal with at any age but certainly for a little girl in the fourth grade. While other little girls were worried about what Sally Sue said about her or whether Billy Bob thought she was cute, I was worried about mother and her drugs. I hated when she sat in a chair and her head would just slowly fall over as she was mumbling.  She “nodded off” frequently and it always made me so mad. I worried…would we have enough to eat? Would we load up in the car and make another drug run? I knew where most of the local drug houses were. She took me with her sometimes. It wasn’t like what you’d think. The houses didn’t have a big sign that said “Drug House.” No, they looked like a normal everyday house. Some even had kids who lived there. We would pull up like we were visiting a friend of Mother’s. Mother would knock on the door. They’d let us in and talk like they were friends. There would be a quick exchange of something. We would leave and then soon…Mother would “nod” off or be out of commission for quite some time. At first, I didnt know it was drug houses or drug dealers we were visiting. I thought we were just going to visit her friends. We just didn’t stay long and soon after we left those houses, things would get scary.

I always saw Mother as weak and loving her drugs more than she loved me…her only daughter. But that’s not the truth. The truth is…those drugs have so much power that they truly control some people. It isn’t about being weak or strong. Some people are powerless and controlled by the substance. It takes a lot to overcome the power of drugs and have a successful recovery, which is a lifelong process.

For all of you in recovery – good for you! You can do this. Celebrate and keep working! I’m proud of you!

For those of you who are dealing with an addict – I get it. I know it sucks and it’s tough. It’s more than tough – it’s heart wrenching to sit by and watch the destruction and know that you are just as powerless as they are. Take care of yourself. Set healthy boundaries, you may need to love from afar. You can’t change or fix them. They have to want to do the work…and its hard work. But you can extend love and show support for their recovery. Every single time they relapse and start recovery again – support them. Don’t judge or fuss and make them feel bad. You’re wasting your breath and energy. Believe me I know. I speak from experience. Besides, there is no need. They feel worse than you could ever possibly imagine. There is no need in trying to make them feel worse. That isn’t productive. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about you. It has nothing to do with lack of love or any of that junk so don’t even let it in your head. They love you but they have a hard time loving themselves.

For those of you caring for or in contact with an addict’s child through raising, teaching, coaching, family or as a friend – love them. Help them. Set an example of love by showing them and loving them. Look past the obvious. If they are struggling or having behavioral problems – dig deep. It may be something unimaginable. You could be the one to help save that child and get them on a different path. History repeats itself and addiction is a chronic disease with a genetic predisposition. That child will always worry about their addict. They will always try and protect them. You’ll probably never understand it so don’t even try.

If love were enough – there would be no more addicts or alcoholics. But love isn’t enough to cure them but extending unconditional love will help heal you.

I can’t speak for Mother. I never walked in her shoes. I know she was in so much emotional pain and suffered so much.  It makes my heart hurt.  Sure, I have things to work through and deal with because of the choices she made when I was little and dependent on her. But it wasn’t my job to judge her. It was my job to love her. To show her love. We are all sinners. We all fail sometimes. None of us are perfect. It’s easy to show love to those who show you sweetness. But that’s not a challenge. Anyone can do that. How do you treat the ones who are hard to love? God loves us though our sins and mistakes. He cries and weeps for us but when we ask for forgiveness and repent…he loves us and forgives us. How can we expect to receive that kind of love from God when we aren’t willing to extend it to our brothers and sisters? Something I learned a long time ago – It was never between Mother and I – it was between her and God. It wasn’t my job to judge her. It was my job to love her…like God loves me.

Don’t forget to focus on the sweetness. Because there are many blessings you will overlook if you just focus on the ugliness.

Sometimes, you have to love from a distance and you have to remove yourself from a toxic relationship. You have to set healthy boundaries but you should always extend love. How you react and treat people is a reflection of who you really are – it has very little to do with them.

Life is bittersweet!

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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Same kind of different

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Sometimes you can spend your whole life trying to be so different from someone else – only to circle back around and realize – you’re the same kind of different!

I’ve spent my entire life trying to be different from my mother. Different is not always better. Sometimes different is just as bad…but it’s different. Which is what I was going for. I didn’t want to be the same as my mother. I didn’t want to be judged by her actions or be categorized with her. So I’ve always focused on the differences…

She was a rule breaker. I am a rule follower. Sometimes, you should break a few dumb rules.

She was married 5 times for short amounts of time. I have been married 24 years to the same man.

She had very little involvement in my life. I am an active mom in my boy’s lives. One of my favorite things in the world is spending time with my boys…laughing…having deep, real, meaningful conversations… playing board games…watching their sports…just being with them.

When she was messed up she did crazy, awful things and had all kinds of drama. I am the opposite… boring and predictable. Sometimes, you need crazy – crazy fun!

Mother went to the penitentiary. I try to walk the straight and narrow. Sometimes, you need to get off the straight and narrow.

Mother was out of control. I have control issues but they are so much better. Oh, now this can be bad!

She drank a lot. Aside from craziness I did in high school, after having my first baby I hardly drank anything. I was a little freakish about it. I was always afraid I would be just like her. Neurotic!

She got mean and told people ugly things. I tried to be nice and put myself in someone else’s shoes. Sometimes you need to tell people off!

The other night, after a family member’s wedding I posted a couple of pictures of me and my boys. One picture of myself caught my eye. I kept looking at it because it reminded me of my favorite picture of my mother. I only have about 20 pictures of my mother so it’s not like I have a lot to choose from. But this one picture has always been my favorite. It was before she lost herself and before I completely lost her to drugs and alcohol. The more I looked at the picture of me – the more I saw my mother. I had never seen my mother in myself before. I always saw us as total opposites. But as I looked at the picture – I saw the similarities. I used Instagram and put the two pictures side by side. My favorite of her and the one of myself. Wow! Oh my goodness! I could see the resemblance! It was amazing to me how much I looked like her. As I looked at the pictures side by side, I saw the similarities…

Not just our physical features but the important stuff…

I have hopes and dreams – she did too.

I have fears and disappointments – she did too.

I had a strained relationship with my mother – she did too.

I am a nurse – she was too.

I’m not an addict or an alcoholic (I am a sugar addict) – she didn’t want to be either.

I love my boys more than I could ever explain – she loved me too.

I want to be the best mom I could possibly be – she did too.

I want to be a good wife – she did too.

I want to do good things – she did too.

I love nice things – she did too.

I love a clean house – she did too.

I love my family – she did too.

I am an introvert – she was too.

I have a little anxiety at times – she had a lot most all of the time.

I love nature and animals…especially dogs – she did too.

I’m pretty resourceful – she was the most resourceful person I know.

I have a tender heart – she did too.

I hate things that are unjust – she did too.

I hate meanness – she did too.

When Mother was alive, I looked at her and just saw the differences. If people said I looked like her, I didn’t really like it because I saw the ugliness from her behavior because of the drugs and alcohol. I viewed her with a negative filter of what she’d put me through, the disappointments and the hurt.  Which was not the most flattering view to look from. But in the last several months, I have looked at my favorite picture of her and seen something different – the sweetness, the beauty, her dreams, her goals and all the beautiful things about her. Like many others, when I look at myself – I see my flaws and see myself in a negative light. But when I looked at the picture of us – side by side, I saw the beauty. I saw all that she wanted to be and I saw all the sweetness she inadvertently taught me. At that moment, I was able to look at her picture in a whole new light. I saw the beautiful similarities. I saw something different in myself. I saw the beauty in all I had been given.

Somewhere along the way – Mother lost her way. Her hopes and dreams were shattered and she was never really able to pick up the pieces. All of my life, I had looked at her as the total opposite of me. I finally saw it – she was the same kind of different as me. It is always so amazing and such a gift when God reveals something to me in his timing – something in a completely different light. Something that has always been right under my nose but I was to busy focusing on something else that I never actually saw it.

What sweetness are you missing because you are so busy focusing on something different?

Finding the sweet side of Crazy!

Kandy

 

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I Grieved in Reverse

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my drunk mother on the phone and cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t help her and I couldn’t stop her. She couldn’t stop or help herself either.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve felt helpless and powerless…just like her.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve been bombarded with phone calls from the E.R., hospital, police, concerned people and life line.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my mother cry and tell me she was scared because she was bleeding again and knew she would eventually bleed to death. Even though she knew Vodka was killing her, she couldn’t stop. I felt scared…just like her.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my mother’s sweet sober voice on the phone. The one that would say “everything’s wonderful” on one of her good days.

It’s been over two and a half months since I laughed with my mother.

It’s been over three years since I tried to force my mother into treatment and she refused. I sat next to her while she spoke to her niece on the phone. Mother was crying  so hard it was difficult to understand her.  She told her niece I was trying to make her go to treatment, she didn’t want to and I was being mean to her.  I wasn’t being mean but I was firm and made it clear she wasn’t staying with me.  She had to go to treatment or go back to her apartment.  My boys weren’t going to be put through this.  I felt bad for her but I was also furious over her stunt of walking my neighborhood and knocking on doors until she found someone to take her to the liquor store. I was angry that she had humiliated herself and my boys…mainly my boys. I tried to protect them from all of the hurt and disappointment that I had known throughout my life and she brought it into my home. She got drunk and Madden had been alone with her. She was a scary mean drunk. It was very emotional for me. I was furious. My kids weren’t going to go through what I had lived through.

Everyone knows you can’t force someone into treatment. But I tried and I failed. I ended up driving her back to her apartment. It took many months before I could speak to her again.  I knew she would eventually kill herself and I couldn’t take it. I had to separate myself from her. It was the only way I knew to protect myself from the hurt.

As I drove home from work yesterday, I thought about Mother and my feelings about her recent death. I let my mind move through different questions and feelings. My thoughts wandered to my friends – How would they feel if they had lost their mom? Would they be devastated? Would they spend a lot of time crying? Would their world be turned upside down? Would they feel heartbroken and hopeless? Would they feel like they had been cheated? Would they miss them? Would they have a hard time? I imagined the answer would have been yes to most of those questions.

I didn’t feel the things I thought my friends might feel. I know this sounds harsh and cold but I almost felt relief…like a ton of bricks were lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe and finally had some peace. I no longer got the endless, helpless, heartbreaking phone calls. I was no longer tormented with worry about her – wondering if she had enough to eat because she had spent her last three dollars on another bottle of vodka. I no longer had to worry if someone was taking advantage of her, if she was getting beat up, if she was in jail or in the ER or hospital. I no longer anticipated the phone call telling me she was dead. I no longer worried about what others must have thought about me – her only daughter not saving her or not hopping in the car and driving the almost 2 hours with every phone call. I no longer felt guilt about putting my kids and husband first and wanting to protect them from the craziness.

That’s when it hit me – my grief was in reverse. I grieved my Mother throughout her life – my life. The feelings I imagined my friends would have with the loss of their mom where the feelings I had during the life of mine. I felt devastated, heartbroken and hopeless. I felt cheated and missed not having her. I had a very hard time with her decisions and the things she put me through. I grieved her my entire life. I prayed for her and tried to help her. It was only in death that she could have peace. Even though she had struggled in this life, I knew the moment she had taken her last breath she had gone to heaven. That gave me peace.

I wish I had gotten the opportunity to have my mother be the mom that I always knew she could have been. It makes me sad that we both missed out on that sweet mother/daughter relationship. God blessed me with so many sweet relationships and I am thankful for those.

I still cry occasionally but it’s not for what was…it’s for what could have been.

The greatest gift of all was that her struggles and my relationship with her inadvertently taught me to be a better mom and savor the sweetness.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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Pharmacogenetics and Medications!

Medications

I have a love/hate relationship with medication!

I’m a nurse…I know medications are needed and have saved so many lives. But I also know they have contributed to so many bad outcomes, addiction and even deaths. Which makes my heart hurt.

Through the years of my nursing career, it has not been unusual to find patients who are taking thirty different medications on a daily basis. While I am not a doctor, I do understand the process of how this can happen. I’m not blaming the doctors. Medications are over sought, over prescribed, over used, illegally obtained and abused. It has created a healthcare nightmare. We have to take a more proactive approach.

So here’s the frustrating scenario (greatly simplified)…

You go to the doctor for an ailment. He/she assesses, diagnoses and then prescribes you a medication. You go to the pharmacy and pick up your medication which is sometimes very expensive. You start taking it and after several days, weeks or months, you learn the medication won’t or isn’t working for you for whatever reason. You go back to the doctor. Another medication is ordered in addition to what you are already taking or in place of the other medication. You go back to the pharmacy and pick up the new medication which may be super expensive. You start taking it and after several more days, weeks or months, you learn this medication isn’t going to work either. You are completely frustrated. This cycle is sometimes repeated many times until a person gets the correct medication or gives up. Not to mention, it costs a fortune in money, a person’s time and bad outcomes (drug/drug interactions, side effects, hospitalizations, deaths, etc.).

I’m sure you have experienced this or you know someone who has.

In comes Pharmacogenetics…What a great tool!

So what is Pharmacogenetics?

It is the study of how our body breaks down (metabolizes) and responds to medications based on our own unique genetic makeup. Based on the genes we inherited, we respond differently to medications or experience different side effects from the medications. This means our individual response to a medication that is effective or safe for another person may be less safe for us.

This can help doctors prescribe a medication based on a person’s genetic makeup and the way their body metabolizes (breaks down) certain medications. The theory is – it will take some of the guess work out of the process. There are so many for a doctor to choose from, I can’t even imagine the difficult process they go through. I’m so excited to share because I know so many can benefit from this test.

It is a very simple buccal swab. From what I understand, many insurance companies will pay for this test including Medicare. It is expensive but in the long run it has the potential to save so much…lives, heartache, money, time, bad outcomes, etc.

 Here are some great links to give you more information:

CBS Pharmacogenomics

Millennium Health Pharmacogenetics testing

pharmacogenetic tests

Pharmacogenomics – National Institute of Health

Sounds simple enough! Right? The test itself is very simple. It is a simple buccal swab of the inside of the cheek. The problem is – there are so many physicians who don’t know about the test or who can’t interpret the results. So do your research in finding one. Find out if your insurance pays for this test. Find a doctor who is knowledgeable about pharmacogenetics, who will order the test and who understands how to interpret the results. Get a copy of the results for future use.

Even though I currently don’t take any medication other than my vitamins and use my essential oils, my plan is to take a proactive approach and have this test completed on myself, because at some point I will need medications. I want to be proactive and be in a place where I can give my doctor a copy of the report and she/he can order the right medicine for me. I want to cut out some of the trial and error.

I can’t help but wonder how this testing might have helped my mother in her health and battle with addiction. If her underlying issue of anxiety would have ever been controlled in her early years, maybe she would have been on a very different path.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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Shop for the Sweet!

Shopping cart

Do you ever wonder why some people repeat ugly family cycles and others break them? Me too! So, I was thinking…what if we decided to change our future with a shopping cart?  We could shop for the sweet and leave the junk behind.

What happens when we go to the grocery store without a list? We’ve all done it. We end up with a bunch of junk, an expensive bill, wasted time and we forget important recipe ingredients.

We all know the best approach is to prepare and plan…to go through our recipes and figure out what we will eat for the next week. Then go through our cabinets, pantry, freezer and refrigerator and decide what ingredients we need to purchase. Make the list. Go to the store. Stick to the list. Yay!! The grocery bill is cheaper. There’s not a lot of junk (we’re not perfect). And we have all the ingredients for a week’s worth of meals. Or most of the ingredients anyway. We aren’t perfect and may have to make another stop sometime during the week to grab something. But whatever!

So what if we did something similar with our own history and our family’s history? What if we took a shopping cart and shopped through our past, through our family’s past and decided what we are going to carry into the future and what we are going to leave behind? What we are going to hand off to our kids and what cycles we are going to stop.

I really like word pictures (thanks to Gary Smalley), so years ago I was thinking (which can be dangerous)…Why can’t we shop for the good things (habits or actions) we want to carry into our own families. Like picking the items we need for recipes. So it would go a little like this…Oh I love how you spend quality family time – I’ll take it. I really want to do family vacations – I’ll take that too. I don’t like that mean tone you use – I’ll leave that. I love the way your life is Christ centered – I’ll take that too. I love how you treat others with respect and love – I’ll take it. I don’t like the laziness – no thank you. I don’t like the drinking and drugging – no thank you. I love the way you encourage each other – I want some of that too. I don’t like how you don’t take care of things – I’ll leave that. I love how you set goals and work hard to have nice things – I want that too. I love how you make your kids and their events a priority – I’ll take it. I love how you make health and exercise a priority – I’ll take it. I don’t like that cheating and lying – no thank you. I love how you say I love you so often – I’ll take that too.

Examine your unique family…the sweet and the junk. Decide what you want to carry into the future (handing off to your kids) and what you want to leave behind. Make an active decision to leave the junk behind. Make a list…what does your family do well? What attributes and characteristics do you want to carry into your own little family? What do you want to leave behind? You don’t have to take it all. You have to have a list, stick to the list and when you see yourself or other’s throwing the junk in your basket – throw it out. You’ve got a goal.

Bottom line – if we don’t take a real look at our own history, our spouses history and generational family history we will most likely just keeping carrying everything forward – the good, the bad and the ugly. Because that’s what we know, what we have been handed and what has been passed down. Change your future! Change your children’s future!

Go shopping for the sweet stuff and leave the junk behind!

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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